When I was younger, I went out to the mailbox every day. Sometimes I went out twice, in case the mailman, who was elderly and kindly, had forgotten to give me something, and had returned in order to assure that I received it, although this never happened, even though he was somewhat older and  kindly and even though I know he would have done this.

Now I go out twice a week: Mondays and Fridays. Or: Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes: just Saturday. And then Monday. I do not know who the mailman is. I never talk to people. I stay inside, and then, on certain days, go out to the mailbox and smell the air.

When I do this, the box is filled with bundles and magazines and letters and things but no actual letters. It feels like Christmas, without the letters. Even when it is hot and sunny, I think: Christmas. If it is raining, I don’t go out, and think what a terrible Christmas it is, and miss my bundles.

Benjamin Franklin once asked: “What sort of bundles?” Usually books. This week I found THOSE WITHOUT SHADOWS. Here’s what I knew about this book: nothing. I liked its title.
It seemed like it could be a romance or a mystery thriller or perhaps some sort of book about ghosts or a BIble.

There were two others: one for frugal American housewives. It has recipes for election cake, caraway cake, tea cake, dough-nuts (spelled that way), cup cakes (spelled that way) and advice that is very smart about how it is important to do certain things, like administer New England rum to wounds, and how to properly care for a raspberry shrub.

The final book is completely in Spanish. It’s beautiful and it was written during World War II. It contains dogs without equal, rare and distinguished gentlemen, two ancient ladies, and Joan of Arc who says: “They hoped to win with their weapons?” only in Spanish, as the flames licked her feet.

It has often been said that the mailbox is the most beautiful thing in the world. I think it is. All my loved ones, gone these many years, would say the same. Yes, they would say, yes.

Helen Keller says: I agree. It’s good to have loved ones.


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